Should I Change the Company Name?

What's in a name? A woodworker ponders whether naming the company after himself was a wise choice — and ends up sticking with it. October 11, 2012

I've been running my business as “[My Name Here] Woodworking for about 6-7 years now, with marginal success. Just recently, business has gone nuts and I'm busier than ever. I attribute that to better sales and marketing. I'm thinking strongly of changing the company name to something that better represents the image I think my image-conscious residential clients want to see, and contrasts with the more common "Your Name Here Woodworks". Besides, I think my current company name is a mouthful.

We as cabinetmakers know that our real clients are our General Contractors (that's where the repeat business comes from). Would I be marketing to the wrong crowd with a sleek new image, or would it help my GCs’ sell more kitchen remodels? Would it be foolish to mess with my current success?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor G:
I think you need to find out exactly what you did that created the activity. Better sales and marketing is not a good answer. Look at what time of year, who was the marketing directed at, how old are they, who are they, where are they, etc. I wouldn't change anything until you have it nailed down exactly.

From the original questioner:
I do know how the business was generated, part through online furniture sales and part through networked contacts with busy general contractors. The reason I was able to land that work is because I have a good website and a decent portfolio. If I change the name, do I lose some of that reputation?

From contributor A:
Twenty years ago when I was twenty-one years old and lacking in confidence, I went with a name that I thought sounded big and professional. My name merely reflects a large geographical area and there are dozens of shops with similar sounding names. I would love to have a pleasant sounding name like yours, I wouldn't change a thing.

From contributor M:
Well 99/100 people would either tell you to stick with what works, or they would suggest a corny alternative. What do you want to do? If you like what you have stick with it. If you find a name that you’re passionate about go for it. Do whatever makes you happy.

From contributor K:
Consider that after 6-7 years in business under your current name, you may be beginning to see fruits of your labor in marketing your name. Just realize if you do change your name, you are starting from scratch. "Busier than ever" tells me you don't have a problem here, as you got there with the name.

"We as cabinetmakers know that our real clients are our General Contractors (that's where the repeat business comes from). Would I be marketing to the wrong crowd with a sleek new image, or would it help my GCs’ sell more kitchen remodels?"

I would think that if you are trying to sell to GCs’ and have them sell more kitchen remodels for you, you would be better off having a different make-up on your website with that focus. Right now, it is a mixture of different products, and the only kitchens on the whole site are the Portrero kitchen, and a set Ikea cabinets installed, which are not even yours.

From contributor W:
I would retain the current names since you say it's a nice sounding name with a good rhythm that will appeal to a broad segment of the population. The third word in the name is irrelevant, as long as it doesn't sound cheesy. You have chosen "Woodworker", which is perfectly good. Twenty-five years ago I chose “"Cabinetmakers.” I do not currently make cabinets, but it's not a huge problem.

If you are a small shop and doing most or all of the work yourself, keep your name. Personally, I find it a little off putting when the owner's name is not in the title, but that's just me. Sales come from a lot more than your name, so put some time and attention into not only your website, but the whole process of following up with clients and presenting your solutions to their problems. That's how you grow a business.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the replies, and due to the responses I'm leaning toward keeping my name as is. I do have an abstract name in mind (which I will keep to myself for the time being). It's Italian and has to do with modern style and fashion, which is what a lot of the high-end kitchens in my area are going toward. I can visualize the business and the branding that would go along with it pretty clearly, but it needs a lot more capital than I have to spend at the moment. Maybe I'll save it for the future when I have some money to put back in the business.

From contributor J:
Your name is fine, don't change it - especially if it has a good reputation. People know your company as that. Changing your name is expensive and time consuming, and you will most likely lose some customers in the move.